Pollution from Coal

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CAN/HEAL/Sandbag/WWF report

Europe's Dark Cloud - How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick Dave Jones (Sandbag), Julia Huscher (Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)), Lauri Myllyvirta and Rosa Gierens (Greenpeace), Joanna Flisowska and Kathrin Gutmann (Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe), Darek Urbaniak and Sarah Azau (WWF European Policy Office); CAN, HEAL, Sandbag, WWF; Jun 2016

This report assesses the cross-border health impacts of coal-burning for power generation for the first time. It finds that:
  • Coal plants in Germany and Poland alone cause over 7,000 premature deaths abroad - 4,700 from Poland and 2,500 from Germany.
  • Coal plants in the Netherlands cause over 200 premature deaths abroad.
  • Coal plants in Romania cause 1,600 deaths abroad.
  • Coal plants in the UK cause 1,300 premature deaths abroad.
  • Coal plants in the Czech Republic cause 1,300 premature deaths abroad.
  • The biggest health impacts from coal abroad are seen in France with 1,200 premature deaths caused by coal pollution from Germany, the UK, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic alone.

Report: Germany suffers more coal-linked deaths than rest of EU James Crisp; EURACTIV.com; 5 Jul 2016

Germany – home to the much-hailed ‘Energiewende’ green revolution – suffered more premature deaths linked to coal plant pollution than any other EU member state, research by health and environment campaigners has found.
Analysis of 257 of 280 coal-fired power plants in the EU found that their 2013 emissions caused over 22,900 deaths, tens of thousands of illnesses from heart disease to bronchitis, and up to €62.3 billion in health costs.
3,630 people in Germany died from coal-related illnesses in 2013, according to the report by the Health and Environment Alliance, Climate Action Network Europe, WWF European Policy Office and Sandbag.
1,860 deaths were traced to coal plants in Germany, which is moving to a low-carbon energy system. The Energiewende (energy switch-over) will require the retirement of most, if not, all coal powered generation in Germany.
The remaining 1,770 premature deaths were traced to pollution caused by coal plants in other EU countries. Polish pollution claimed 630 of those lives, the research claims.
Germany buys cheap coal-fired energy from Poland to pick up the slack left by the abandonment of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.
But its domestic coal is also responsible for deaths in other member states, according to the report Europe’s Dark Cloud.
Germany is one of the top five countries whose coal power plants cause the most harm abroad. Poland causes 4,690 premature deaths abroad, Germany 2,490, Romania 1,660, Bulgaria 1,390 and the UK 1,350.

Coal dust kills 23,000 per year in EU: report Phys.org; 4 Jul 2016

Lung-penetrating dust from coal-fired power plants in the European Union claims some 23,000 lives a year and racks up tens of billions of euros in health costs, an NGO report said Tuesday.
Even as the bloc shifts towards renewable sources like wind and Sun energy, coal still accounted for 18 percent of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 and a quarter of its electricity mix in 2015, said the analysis.
Emissions from 257 power plants for which data was available "were associated with 22,900 premature deaths in 2013," said the report entitled "Europe's dark cloud: How coal-burning countries make their neighbours sick".
There are a total of 280 coal-fired plants.
The study was compiled by researchers from four green energy lobby groups: the Health and Environment Alliance, the WWF, Climate Action Network Europe and Sandbag.
In addition to deaths, the report blamed coal plant pollution for nearly 12,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis and more than half-a-million asthma attacks in children in the EU in 2013.
The medical treatment required, as well as reduced productivity caused by absence from work, amassed "substantial costs" of 32.4 billion to 62.3 billion euros ($36 billion to $70 billion), said the report.
About 83 percent of deaths, some 19,000 in total, were blamed on inhalation of fine particulate matter, air-borne particles so small—under 2.5 micrometres in diameter—that they can enter deep into the lungs and bloodstream.
Hearth disease, cancer
"Most common causes of death connected to particulate matter exposure are strokes, heart disease, chronic lung disease or lung cancer," said the report.
It warned the particles "are transported hundreds of kilometres and across national borders, impacting the health of people both within the country of production and further afield."
The report listed the EU's worst offenders, attributing 4,690 premature deaths to coal power stations in Poland, 2,490 to Germany, 1,660 to Romania, 1,390 to Bulgaria and 1,350 to Britain.
The five countries most affected by pollution from their own as well as neighbouring countries were Germany with 3,630 deaths, Italy with 1,610, France with 1,380, Greece with 1,050, and Hungary with 700.
"Air pollution is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide," Roberto Bertollini, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the EU said in a statement.
"Higher temperatures from climate change will exacerbate the problem."
A similar study in the United States had attributed more than 13,000 premature deaths to coal pollution, while Indian research has blamed as many as 115,000 premature deaths and 20 million asthma cases per year on coal.